The sort of person who is happy only when he is unhappy

Over at Rorate, we have a report of the SSPX bishop Bernard Fellay making a speech in Argentina. You can get more of the speech at Rorate but here is something that interested me (emphasis mine).

"…it seems like that in this text, motu proprio, there isn’t only the Mass, there’s something else, there’s another thing, and this other thing is for the Society of Saint Pius X. But, I don’t know what. I ask myself if it’s the matter of the excommunications, if it’s the question of the juridical structure. I don’t know. They haven’t told me ! (laughter) and, then… (sic) but what I see is that, it’s like an expectation by Rome that, if they give us the Mass, they think that we are going to change and end the battle. And that, you can be certain, it’s not true. Not for anything!"

The battle for what?

There is a type of person who is happy only when he is unhappy. Thus, they create conflict nearly compulsively. Fellay has to deal with a lot of people like that. Therefore, his quip I quoted might just be a bit of a pep talk for the crowd, sure to please that sort of person.

On the other hand, there are going be other issues to fight through. I have contended for a long time that many in the SSPX perceive issues like that of religious liberty and the opening of the Church to the "modern world" (cf. Gaudium et spes) as being of primary importance. Indeed, the Pope can do things like derestrict the older form of Mass with the flick of a finger. He can create juridical structures for "schismatics" or various Catholic "traditionalists" with the stroke of a pen. Much more difficult is a reverse march away from documents of the Second Vatican Council. That’s is exactly what some will demand.

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  1. Sure, Fr, that’s possible. But I don’t know that it can all be put up to personal dispositions on the part of this one man. Both sides of this issue are probably having to deal with political situations and expectations. In fact, I’m sure they are.

    There’s a lot of water under the bridge, and we can only hope that this regularizes and not too many on either side are lost. The longer it goes on the more risk of people being lost, and I think that’s clearly understood by the Pope and his closest associates, if not by many others in the Catholic church even at a high level.

  2. What people would rather not face is the recognition that there is ignorance of the proper place of V2 on both sides of the SSPX dispute, and it’s as deep over here as over there. This facet of the SSPX regularization must be dealt with along with the regularization of the Catholic populace in general.

    The things we’ve seen, on both sides, that have upset us are not the consequences, per se, of V2. They are the consequences of the interpretation that V2 somehow stands apart in relevance from the other 20 ecumenical councils and that’s wrong.

    V2 must be put in the context of all the other councils because they all derive their legitimacy from the same source–the Holy Spirit leading the Church. V2 is a legitimate council BUT V2 does NOT have the power to refute any other council before it. Any interpretation that says it does have that power is simply wrong on that count. Among all 21 councils, V2 was a minor council. According to Pope John XXIII himself in his opening statements, it was never meant to be doctrinal. It is merely the 21st of 21, and a footnote to the other 20.

    So, if the members of the SSPX or any of the rest of us wish to adhere to tradition, there is nothing separating us from it except:
    a) that the proper interpretation of the councils in one single context needs to be made. Pope Benedict’s oration of December 22 last year was a start.
    b) the normalization of the Mass situation with historical and canonical practice needs to be established, so that it can be freely said as part of the Church’s patrimony. This is partially in place, and the rest remains. The motu proprio will bring this about, at least formally.
    c) and for the sake of men who have been ordained under the auspices of the SSPX, regularization of their status, and regularization of their parishes as real parishes, with schools and buildings. THis may be the most difficult part.

  3. Barb says:

    My amen to that, too. From what I hear and observe, many people attending Mass at the SSPX chapels, and priests within the SSPX want their situation regularized. But there are others involved who don’t. The “battle” mentality has degenerated from our Christian duty to battle Satan in all our temptations to battling men in the Church. We must pray very hard for a positive resolution of this separation. What it comes down to is, “ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia”. Peter wasn’t perfect and neither has any Pope been. It is no excuse to separate oneself. To me, the most important thing is to understand the meaning of liturgical piety, and to proclaim the richness of our Sacred Liturgy in order to bring others to its beauty and salvific effects, not to “battle” the post Vatican II debacle.


  4. Certainly. The V2 thing is a big issue on both sides and one should not lay the blame on the SSPX without seeing the same thing on this side too. It’s ubiquitous, I’m sorry to say, but there’s no way around it. It’s the truth.

    I’m old enough to remember the climate of the 60/70s. When you had in your hands a document, in 1965, which didn’t say much of anything substantive or particular, you read into it to “get into the spirit.” And newer was *always* better. The sky was the limit. Groovy. [The same thing happened in American industry, particular in research institutions, BTW. We’re still recovering from it.] We have this legacy and have to right it in the Church too.

    In 2006, when you hold a document in your hands that doesn’t say much of anything substantive or particular, you put it down and get a document by the same source which is more detailed. And then you really study it to get the concept mapped and understood before you run off with your hair on fire. ;)

    We need to get over the shock of the whole 60/70s V2 treatment. It’s going to take patience and work on BOTH SIDES. It’s no good just blaming the SSPX for what is rife over here too.

  5. John says:

    What I do not hear clearly in these discussions that the group who wrecked the Church in the name of V2, how are they going to be regularized? Are we going to wait until all of them die? I am speaking about parts of the hierarchy and parts of the laity. Take whole diosceses, for example, LosAngeles, Richmond Virginia or diosceses in France, Germany, Austria who have apostasized far more seriously than the SSPX folks but were never formally charged. I am not advocating excommunication for them but something surely needs to be done.

    Let us suppose the SSPX are reunited and they continue to raise legitimate but unpopular points in theology that thelikes of our Cardinals Mahoney, McCarick and other do not like who is going to deal with them? Cardinal Levada? I hope so.

  6. But derestrict the Mass an the large part of their constituency is removed.

  7. Fr. Blake: Which would therefore be an act of charity, as it would remove them from the risk of schism.

  8. Paul Haley says:

    Not being an apologist for the SSPX it’s difficult for me to interpret Bishop Fellay’s remarks, however, could he be referring to the need for discussions on doctrine and, specifically how the dogmatic statments of previous doctrinal councils of the church meld with the documents of Vatican II? Could he be referring to the need to examine Vatican II in the light of Tradition and the need to conform the results of Vatican II with what the church has always taught and believed? I wonder. The implication that he or the society is nothing but a bunch of complainers is, to me, not very charitable.

  9. fr.franklyn mcafee says:

    Someone on Rorate has pointed out that Fellay has the habit of saying different things in Europe and South America.He also pointed out that some of the statements contadict each other.Also is Bishop Fellay realy ignorant of what is going on?One would think that Roem would be in contact with him in some way. Some dioceses are so wounded by a false renewal that it would take a herculean effort to revive them.Perhaps they should be re-evangelized.Whispers in the Loggia who seems well connected ,reported the rumor that Benedict may do what JP considered doing,that is merging some dioceses and abolishing others.It usually takes a radical surgery to heal the patient and to quote the charismatic Ralph Martin’s warning to the American bishops to clean up the mess “Do it! Or God will!”

  10. This report saddens me but does not surprise me. After awhile, any institution begins to develop a need and desire for self-preservation, and that means that it is inevitable that any moves toward reconciliation between the SSPX and Rome would draw fire from SSPX and very likely, sabotage. No predictions, but it would not surprise me if the following plays out: for each move Rome makes to heal things, SSPX — or perhaps only elements with it — reacts with new complaints, or greater intensity to existing ones, such that the gap remains.

  11. Robert says:

    Father, I’ve got to say that the Bishop’s comments always leave me confused. One moment he sounds ready to come over, the next he’s hiding in the bushes afraid of some trap, back and forth and…

  12. Robert: Schism is like an old fashioned nylon stocking women wore: one snag and it would run and split all over. At the risk of mixing metaphors wildly, I am sure Fellay finds keeping these folks together is like herding cats. … who are really good at snagging stockings!

    I don\’t begrudge him pep-talk rhetoric. We shall have to see what they actually do.

  13. Dennis says:

    Paul Haley, Yep I think thats the battle. The other side
    do’nt want a revision of Vatican II. The Pope is in a
    Catch 22 here.

  14. The carnage from the 60/70s is still with us. They need not think of what desperately needs to be done just in the context of “doing it for the SSPX.”

    V2 needs to be put in the proper context and the liturgical mess needs to be cleaned up, because it is just and right, if nothing else. So much the better if part or all of the SSPX is able to come back on account of cleaning house. But that’s not the only reason to do it.

    We cannot go on listening to off-key Peter, Paul & Mary recitals, and pandering to heretics, while Europe and Latin America evacuate the Church, forever. It’s time to get it right and move on.

  15. Andy says:

    I don’t see a problem with the Bishop’s statement. I think what he is saying is that the problem is not simply the Mass. That is certainly the heart of the issue, but the battle will not end until the full life of the Church is restored; that is, brought back into continuity with tradition.

  16. Jack Cash says:

    It seems to me that Bishop Fellay is preparing traditionalists for reconciliation and regularization. He has to make it clear to the hardcore in the traditionalist movement that the Society of St Pius X will not go soft just because of regularization. This should not be interpreted as a threat against Rome or a declaration of undying enmity. He is simply marshalling his men to ready them for regularization. Obviously Vatican officials and the Pope will understand that these comments are necessary from the internal perspective of the Society. It is even possible that Fellay has reached an understanding with Rome that he may have to come out with some rather strong language in the runup to regularization in order to sell it effectively to his ‘flock’. He is in a very delicate situation. Let us pray for him.

  17. Brian Mershon says:

    The battle to which he refers of course is a spiritual battle. It is the battle against Modernism that Cardinal Castrillon initially asked the SSPX to engage in.

  18. Jack Cash says:

    Good point. Apparently the remit of the Good Shepherd Institute in Bordeaux even includes working towards an interpretation of Vatican II which harmonizes it with traditional teachings, even though we have been told for years that we must unconditional assent to every word in the VII documents, and woe betide anyone who raises questions about it.

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